Author Michael Crichton often dabbled in other skills besides writing. He directed the sci-fi film Westworld in 1973, and later the period piece The Great Train Robbery in ’79. In the early 80’s, Crichton started to get interested in computer games. He taught himself basic, and after teaming up with a programmer and artist, set about designing an adventure game around his recently released jungle adventure novel Congo. Unfortunately for the project, Crichton did not realize that he had already sold the rights to the novel and could not base their game on it. After some hasty tweaks and alterations, Crichton and his team released Amazon. In essence it is the same story as Congo, but with a change of setting, some characters renamed, and set pieces altered.
I’ve often thought that the genre of videogames tailor made for expansive storytelling was the point and click adventure. In its heyday, adventure games were some of the most imaginative games around. They could take a player to very imaginative places and involve them in the progression of a story much more intimately than most action games. Games from Sierra and Lucas Arts could tell deep or shallow stories with superb writing in games like King’s Quest and Grim Fandango, Cyan Worlds produced the mind-bending settings of the Myst series, and Tell-Tale Games has used the medium to expand on the stories of popular franchises like The Walking Dead and Batman. These games have shown the versatility and expanded the story telling abilities of the genre through the years.
Movie licensed games can be handled in many different ways. Sometimes they can be really imaginative experiences that put the player into the midst of the film’s action. SunSoft’s adaptation of Batman (1989) on the NES is a good example of this, a fantastic action platformer set right at the climax of the film to let you feel the thrill of being a superhero. Other times they can be companion pieces to the film that expand on the characters and plot. Atari’s Enter the Matrix (2003) was an ambitious project that resolved key plot points of the second Matrix film to make the game a cannon part of the larger franchise. One of the stranger possibilities is when a developer doesn’t know what to do with a game and makes multiple versions across many platforms that retell the events of the film. Ocean Software developed four different video game adaptations of Sam Raimi’s Darkman (1991) across the NES, Gameboy, and several home computers, all of which offer slightly different retellings of the movie. Today’s game is an example of a company taking a different and rather lazy approach to a movie license.
Growing up I never saw very much of PC gaming. I was mainly exposed to consoles in those years, but whenever I visited a friend or relative I was always excited to see new games, no matter what they were on. One day I recall visiting an Uncle’s home and him showing my brother and I Prince of Persia on his computer. Although I did not remember the name and could barely even begin to figure how to play it, I was struck by the realistic movement of the characters. Years later, I rediscovered the game when its reboot, The Sands of Time, was released. I was totally in love with the game, and when I got a copy of the original on Gameboy, I played it until I memorized the whole thing. A few years later, after gaining access to a Super Nintendo, I found a version produced by Konami and was very impressed with the expansions made on the home console version. But one day, I was browsing a used game shop and came across a copy of Prince of Persia 2 on SNES. I had no idea there was a sequel, and bought it right then and there. However, I was grossly disappointed to find a strange, broken, mess of a game that was so bad I didn’t wonder that it was not remembered by fans. Rather upset, I returned the game and moved on to other things.
When I was young, I had never seen any of the classic Universal monster movies. I had only vague ideas of what creatures like Dracula and Frankenstein were about. They are so much a part of popular culture that by the time I heard of them they were so played out that they were very hard to take seriously, even for a child. When I was a teen I read Stoker’s Dracula and Shelley’s Frankenstein and found them to be very deep and subtle horror stories that have stood up very well over the years. With a newfound respect for these characters I was curious to see how they had been presented in other media, and after being seeped in Universal and Hammer films, I went to see how games had treated them. For Dracula it was simple. He had shown up in numerous games throughout the years, but is most well known as the main antagonist of the Castlevania series. It didn’t take much to find him, but Frankenstein’s monster was another story. Although there are some examples of his presence in games, it is usually as a lackey for Dracula in Castlevania.
Now that Kojima has left Konami, it is a time to fear for his flagship series, Metal Gear. Konami, showing a distinct lack of foresight, have announced a Metal Gear Solid 3 themed pachinko machine and a 4-player co-op zombie game called Metal Gear Survive. These ideas do not make me confident the series is in good hands. This made me think back to any other Metal Gear games that were handled without Kojima’s involvement. There was Metal Gear: Ghost Bable (2000) for the Gameboy color, however that game was still made by people who had worked with Kojima on previous games, and he did give his approval to the project. There were the turn based Metal Gear AC!D (2005) games, but those were produced by Kojima himself.
Hello there and welcome to my blog! I’m Solid Pawn, an avid gamer and film buff. On this site I intend to put down my thoughts on some of my best, as well as less than enjoyable experiences with the media I love most. I’ll talk about games, movies, even a few books and comics on occasion. However, more often than not I’ll fall back onto my greatest passion, classic video games. I understand that’s not exactly fresh territory on the internet, but I think that any new thoughts, even on well known games can be of value. I will talk about well discussed games as well as some obscure ones that don’t get a lot of attention.
Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoy what I have in store.